The Fool Within: Self-Discovery Through Clown and Mask

Facilitated by Sarah Lowry and Donna Oblongata

January 25 - February 1, 2020

at Menla (Phoenicia, NY)

Fee: $1850 (or $1700  early-bird rate if paid before Dec 10)

Fee includes a private bedroom, three chef-prepared meals per day, materials, and individual drama therapy work.


Menla is a spectacular retreat center, located only 2.5 hours from NYC. For an additional fee, participants can enjoy the on-campus spa, including saunas, steam-rooms and soaking tubs.

For more information, or to register, email

About the workshop


This six-day intensive works deep parts of the imagination and the self, to help break down personal, creative and emotional blocks. The workshop combines the pioneering clown work of Richard Pochinko with Drama Therapy techniques to turn creative play into a tool for self-discovery and growth. 


The course is emotionally rigorous and quite physical, but in a way that is accessible to all bodies and abilities. We’ll use our bodies, as well as paint and clay, to explore our own imaginations and to express what we find. But this is by no means a visual arts or theater class—no experience necessary! 


Each day begins with physical warmups meant to connect students with their bodies’ own impulses. From there, students will explore their relationships to color through imaginative exercises and paintings. Finally, each student creates a mask, which they use as a tool to explore hidden aspects of their own inner world. 


These exercises are supplemented with Drama Therapy techniques to help facilitate each student’s own unique journey through this material. These therapeutic exercises may involve  exploring difficult moments that came up during the work, increasing one’s own self-awareness, or helping integrate moments of personal growth. This workshop will ask the group to practice being comfortable with the unknown inside each of us and to remain curious about what we find.


With an awareness that each of us brings our own and our community’s diversity of histories, wounds and resiliencies, this intensive holds a trauma-informed lens. Each participant will have choice and support to follow their own impulses, both in the clown work, as well as in their own therapeutic/healing process.


Why clown?

Every culture has clowns-- people whose role is to speak truth to power, upset the social hierarchy, and amplify the messages of the divine. But in order to do this work, a clown must be able to laugh at themselves. They must share with us their struggles and their humanity. Otherwise, how can we trust them?

This workshop provides a safe (and fun) way to begin the journey of discovering what is most beautiful, alive, and ridiculous within you. And from there, finding how that deeper connection to the self allows for greater connection with others and the world around us. And of course, you’ll also get to wear a red nose. 

Particular aspects of focus for this workshop:


  • Following your own impulses

  • Noticing your tendencies and patterns

  • Sitting in discomfort, playing in discomfort, and connecting in discomfort

  • Accessing the creativity and intelligence the body

  • Working intuitively, rather than intellectually

  • Making connection in an embodied way

  • Finding strength through pleasure and vulnerability

  • Discovering your own self-delight












About the teachers:

Sarah Lowry is a trained mental health counselor specializing in Drama Therapy and Somatic Experiencing®. Lowry currently serves as an individual and group clinician at Centerpoint Adolescent Treatment Services in South Burlington, Vermont, where she serves teenagers and their families, with a particular interest in the ways that individuals, families, and communities are informed by complex and intergenerational trauma. She also has a private practice in Northfield, VT where she works with adults blending bodywork, psychotherapy, and Somatic Experiencing® to provide a body-based approach to healing trauma and chronic stress.


Lowry comes to this work with experience as a theater artist, a dancer, a community organizer, and a massage therapist. She has a wealth of arts-based experience, serving as a performer, director, producer, stage manager, and teacher. She was the co-founder of The Missoula Oblongata, with whom she collaborated on a wide range of projects that included community theater productions, full-scale national tours, and workshops with youth and adults of all ages on collaborative theater creation.  


Lowry received her undergraduate degree from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and a master's degree in Drama Therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Donna Oblongata is a theater artist, writer, and clown teacher living in Philadelphia. She first studied the Pochinko clown technique in 2006, with master teacher Sue Morrison. The pedagogy had a profound effect on her, changing the way she approached performance and creative work in general. Seeking a deeper connection to the Pochinko pedagogy, she went on to study with John Turner, of Canada’s beloved Mump & Smoot, and has since begun teaching the work around the northeastern United States. 

Donna is an active writer and performer. Her recent solo play, All 100 Fires has toured nationally twice, supported by a grant from the Puffin Foundation and by the immersive art company Meow Wolf. Play on Milwaukee called the piece “inventive, brimming with compassion, and monstrously funny.”


She has toured her work around North America, New Zealand, and Europe-- performing everywhere from post offices to living rooms to Off-Broadway theaters. Donna has twice been the recipient of the Leeway Foundation’s “Art and Change” grant for her teaching work. She holds an MFA in interdisciplinary theater arts from Towson University.

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